Pubdate: Thu, 24 May 2001
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Associated Press
Author: Siobhan McDonough


The Nevada state Assembly approved a measure that would authorize
medical use of marijuana and would lessen the criminal penalty faced
by anyone who possesses the drug.

The bill was approved 30-12 Wednesday and goes to the Senate, which is
expected to vote later this month.

Supporter Vivian Freeman, a Democrat, said she's ''puzzled why there
are so many hoops to jump through for something that's so helpful.''

Opponents said lawmakers should heed the U.S. Supreme Court's
unanimous May 14 ruling that federal law classifying the drug as
illegal makes no exception for ill patients.

''This bill puts Nevadans in a Catch-22,'' said Greg Brower, a
Republican who opposed the measure. ''It says we're not going to
prosecute for use it's a federal crime but don't worry about that.''

Nevadans voted overwhelmingly in 1998 and 2000 to amend the state
constitution to authorize marijuana for people with cancer, AIDS,
glaucoma and other illnesses.

In outlining how the amendment would be implemented, the legislation
would allow seriously ill people to have up to seven marijuana plants
for personal use. A new state registry would list patients whose
doctors recommend they use marijuana for medical reasons.

The measure also reduces possession of small amounts of marijuana to a
misdemeanor crime, rather than a felony. Nevada is one of only a few
states that make marijuana possession a felony.

Voters in Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon and
Washington have approved ballot initiatives allowing medical
marijuana. Hawaii's governor signed similar legislation last year.
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